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An Expert guide to Keratosis Pilaris

Are you plagued by hundreds of tiny bumps on your body?

That aren’t quite pimples or ingrown hairs.

Then chances are you have keratosis pilaris.

Known as ‘chicken skin’, it presents as raised tiny bumps, usually on your arms.

It can be an absolute confidence crusher.

And although it’s a perfectly harmless condition, it can make you very conscious.

But dont panic. We have you covered.

From causes to treatment, here’s your expert guide to keratosis pilaris.

What Is Keratosis Pilaris?

Typically your skin will look like you are covered in tiny pimples.

They are usually white but can be inflamed in areas.

You can be forgiven for wanting to pick your skin, but as skin specialists, we advise against keratosis pilaris popping, as it could lead to scarring or dark spots.

There are a few theories behind why you might suffer from keratosis pilaris; it could be a genetic factor, but the most commonly held view is that keratosis pilaris is caused by keratin or a buildup of dead skin cells in the hair follicles.

However, this study suggests (1) it may not be a disorder of keratinisation. The research found that it is caused by the hair shaft, which ruptures the lining of the follicle wall, causing abnormal follicular keratinisation and inflammation.

A lack of vitamin A is another reason you may have keratosis pilaris, so using moisturisers or creams with vitamin A and eating foods rich in this vitamin may help keep your chicken skin at bay.

How do You Recognise Keratosis Pilaris?

There are several symptoms:

  • itchy skin, especially on your legs, upper arms and even your butt
  • your skin may have a very rough, and uneven texture
  • you may have areas of redness and discolouration
  • often there is an increase in the pimples, especially during cold weather – but remeber, no keratosis pilaris popping!

Note: Psoriasis, eczema, and fungal infections can cause similar symptoms. Consult a dermatologist if you’re unsure what may be causing these signs to appear on your skin. 

A close up picture of keratosis pilaris pimples on the skin
A close-up of keratosis pilaris on the skin

Who gets Keratosis Pilaris? 

Babies, toddlers, children, and teenagers are usually more susceptible to keratosis pilaris than adults. 

As discussed above, it can be genetic, so if your family members have keratosis pilaris, chances are you may develop it. 

Other factors that could potentially put you at risk of developing keratosis pilaris are:

  • asthma
  • cushing’s syndrome
  • the condition hypothyroidism
  • ichthyosis vulgaris, a pre-existing skin condition
  • Research has found that those with eczema are also more at risk. 

Regardless, it’s not a harmful skin condition; dermatologists consider keratosis pilaris more a skin type than a medical condition. 

Keratosis Pilaris Treatment

There are ways to ease your symptoms; here are a few to consider:


The best keratosis pilaris treatment is with a gentle exfoliator that helps eliminate dead skin cells while also softening the skin.

Look for one that contains salicylic acid and niacinamide to gently slough away the keratin buildup.

Use a washcloth, loofah, or exfoliating gel to scrub the affected areas of your skin.

Take care not to scrub too hard to avoid causing further irritation on your skin. Use a gentle, circular motion when scrubbing for better results. 

Medicated Creams

Often medicated creams are prescribed to patients with keratosis pilaris. 

Products with ingredients such as salicylic acid, urea, and glycolic acid can reduce the appearance of keratosis pilaris on your skin. 

Get in touch with a skin professional for appropriate advice and recommendations for medicated creams. 

Adopt a gentle Skincare Routine

Your current skincare routine could be causing your keratosis pilaris to become more pronounced and itchy. 

Practising gentle skin care can help reduce the appearance of this condition.

A few practices you should consider adopting include: 

  • Using lukewarm water during showers instead of hot
  • Shortening your showers to 15 minutes or less
  • Using a mild soap or body wash when taking a bath
  • Moisturising daily

Laser Treatments

If keratosis pilaris has caused significant discolouration on your skin, one way to treat it is with professional laser treatments. 

This procedure is painless and can permanently remove keratosis pilaris from your skin. 

Dermatologists recommend different laser treatments to treat various symptoms. To ensure you get the proper remedy, talk to a professional before getting laser treatment. 

Home Remedies for Keratosis Pilaris

Home remedies may also be applied to keratosis pilaris to ease some symptoms. However, this won’t be a permanent fix. 

Here are a few techniques you can try to make the affected skin look healthier: 

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is an excellent remedy for dry or flaky skin. It moisturises your skin, leaving it feeling soft and hydrated. 

Furthermore, as coconut oil has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, it can also lessen the appearance of bumps on your skin. 

Apple Cider Vinegar

This natural exfoliator is an excellent home remedy for keratosis pilaris. 

Make sure to mix it with equal amounts of water with the cider, especially if you have sensitive skin.

If not, it can cause irritation and dryness to your skin. 

Use a small cotton applicator to rub the mixture on the affected areas. 


You don’t necessarily need to apply water to your skin. 

Since dehydration and dry skin can cause keratosis pilaris to flare, keeping your body hydrated can help reduce the appearance of bumps on your skin. 

Carry a bottle of cool drinking water with you, especially during hot weather. 

Baking Soda

Baking soda is yet another great natural exfoliant that can help reduce the appearance of keratosis pilaris pimples. 

Combine two teaspoons of baking soda with some water to make a paste. 

Gently rub the paste into the affected areas of your skin and let it sit for around five minutes. 

After five minutes, rinse the paste with water and wipe your skin dry.

Keratosis Pilaris Popping Pimples

While the pimples aren’t harmful, we warn against squeezing them. Keratosis pilaris popping can lead to infection and even scarring.

To conclude, The naked truth.

Usually, keratosis pilaris is temporary and will go away over time. Its symptoms shouldn’t cause you any pain or significant discomfort. 

So, if you feel anything out of the ordinary, consider speaking with a skincare professional about your symptoms. 

Dry, itchy, and bumpy skin is a common sign of keratosis pilaris. 

Several clinical and home remedies can help reduce or even eliminate these signs, leaving you with smooth and glowing skin. 

You may be recommended to use an over-the-counter moisturiser or medicated cream to treat your symptom.

We warn against popping keratosis pilaris pimples, which can lead to infection and scarring.

Regardless of your choice, it’s important to remember that your daily skincare routine has the most impact on your skin health. 

Consider transitioning to a more straightforward and gentler skincare routine. 

Not only can this help minimise the appearance of keratosis pilaris, but it may also improve your overall complexion. 

Even adopting simple practices such as shortening the time you spend in the shower or switching to a milder soap can do wonders for your skin. 

Talk to your healthcare provider for more advice on caring for your skin. 


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